If you've paid any attention to the 2012 season, you know that Albert Pujols has yet to hit a home run. The three-time MVP, fresh off the first homerless month of his career, is hitting just .208/.252/.287 with career-worst walk and strikeout rates. Jered Weaver's no-hitter Wednesday temporarily deflected some attention away from Pujols' struggles. But while Weaver mowed down the Minnesota Twins, Pujols' homerless streak reached 107 plate appearances, ensuring that scrutiny of his every swing will only intensify once the no-hitter hubbub dies down.
Pujols averaged 39 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals during the past five seasons. After factoring in some age-related decline and the difficulty of hitting home runs from the right side in Angel Stadium, PECOTA projected him to hit 33 in 2012. The probability that a 33-home run hitter would go homerless in 107 plate appearances by chance alone is just 0.3 percent. Either Pujols has been extremely unlucky, he's declined more quickly than PECOTA expected, or he's pressing at the plate.
Privately, Pujols is probably feeling some pressure. Publicly, though, he claims to be unconcerned: "I don't think about that, man. It could be tomorrow, maybe the next day, a month from now, I don't know. My job is to get myself ready to play and take my swing. Home runs, when they come, they come in bunches."
At this point, Pujols would probably settle for hitting homers in dribs and drabs, let alone bunches. According to his comments, though, when he does start hitting homers, they'll add up in a hurry. But can he be believed?